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Here are some of our clients' most commonly asked questions...
What is the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?
A medical analogy might help to explain: a solicitor can be likened to a GP – a professional generalist who is used to dealing with a variety of problems and passing some of them on to more specialised experts. A barrister is like a consultant – a specialist in one or more areas of the law, with in-depth expertise and experience. New regulations allow you to go direct to a specialist barrister without going through a solicitor, thus getting expert advice from the start and saving on the cost of the solicitor.
What’s the difference between a barrister and a lawyer?
‘Lawyer’ is a general term that covers both solicitors and barristers.
Where can I find more information about barristers?
Just take a look at the Bar Council website.
What qualifications do your barristers have and how are they regulated?
All of our barristers are members of the Bar of England and Wales, and are self-employed practitioners and Commissioners for Oaths. They are all public access and most are litigation qualified, which means that they are able to take instructions directly from members of the public and to carry out most of the services that a solicitor would perform. All barrister members of Greycoat Law comply with the Code of Conduct for the Bar of England and Wales, and are regulated by the Bar Standards Board. Our barristers have appropriate professional liability insurance. Greycoat Law is insured by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund and its membership number is 8121-002.
Why should I use a public access barrister?
The public access route means that the client:
Saves money without compromising on quality
Has access to legal expertise at a cheaper cost
Is able to manage their budget
Gains advice that will help to avoid litigation and escalate legal costs
Is in control of their case
The Bar Standards Board has produced guidance on public access for lay clients. Please click here for more information.
What fields of law do you currently cover?
If you take a look at the LinkedIn profile of our Head of Chambers, you will see that she has experience of many areas of law, ranging from company and commerical law to coal and nuclear law. Although we specialize in specific types of law, our breadth of experience in other fields of law and industries often helps!
How are your offices run?
Our administrative support is provided by our Administrative Team, which is based in Newcastle. Their role is to take all administrative work away from the legal and consultancy teams so that the lawyers, consultants and assistant paralegals can focus on doing client work. It will usually be the Administrative Team who contact you to arrange meetings, run through administrative issues with you or deal with your basic queries. As it is not a barrister or consultant who is doing this work, clients are charged for this work at a much lower rate than the legal and consultancy teams and it is a cost saving that clients can then benefit from.
What if I'm not satisfied?
We are committed to giving an excellent service at all times to our lay and professional clients alike and to treat our team and all stakeholders with dignity and respect. However, we recognize that mistakes, misunderstandings, delays and other problems can occur. In the event that any of our clients or team are dissatisfied with the professional service or personal treatment they have received from any one of our team we take such matters very seriously and deal with it via our Complaints Policy attached here.
What is your GDPR status?
What should I send to you in my case 'bundle'?
We will need copies of all paperwork, photographs, digital recordings and any other media that logs:
evidence of what you are saying about your case
arguments presented by other parties about your case
communications with third parties about your case
any other relevant information
Please do not send us original documents – you should retain the originals as well as a copy of any paperwork that you send us, for your own records. You should note that the paperwork that you send to us will be for our own internal use and we will shred it once we are no longer instructed by you. You are responsible for keeping your own hard copy version and e-version. Details of how to prepare the case paperwork we require from you will be sent to you with your invoice.
Note that our invoice is largely based upon the information you send to us in your case 'bundle' or equivalent. If further information is disclosed, this may affect the fee you are required to pay for the completion of your work, as it may become apparent that additional tasks are required on your case, or our strategy may have to change or more work than anticipated may have to be completed on your behalf.
What happens once your work on my case is complete?
At the conclusion of your case, we will either come off record formally or limit our involvement to forwarding correspondence on your behalf. The timescales for response that apply to current clients will no longer apply to you, although we will use our best endeavours to respond to you in a timely and efficient manner.
What happens to my case papers after your work is done?
At the conclusion of our work on your case, we will offer you the option of having any case paperwork that we have not already sent to you in e-version posted to you via ‘signed for’ delivery. You will have to pay for the administrative and postage costs associated with this.
As we keep all clients updated on our communications with third parties on a regular basis, we will not send you copies of these communications. Should you request these in addition, you will have to pay for our administrative costs in collating, copying and sending you these.
For compliance, GDPR, regulatory and practical reasons, we do not allow clients to either collect paperwork themselves or to send a courier to do so. Should we not hear from you within the deadline set for this process, we will scan and shred the paperwork.
What if I cannot afford your fees?
There are several avenues for assistance if you are on a tight budget.
Your first point of call should be to check your various insurances to see if you have legal cover for your case. You can also check whether you are part of an employee scheme or Trade Union (if relevant). You may also qualify for Legal Aid.
Note that we do not run Legal Aid cases or 'no win no fee' cases, although there are many legal practices that do.
There are other avenues of help that are worth exploring:
How should I prepare for my Court hearing?
The first thing you should do is to check the documentation from the Court outlining the practical arrangements.
Confirm the time, date and location with the Court before 4pm the day before the hearing. If there are any changes, let us know as soon as possible (although we will be checking also).
Attend Court at least 1 hour prior to the hearing wearing formal, but comfortable clothing.
When you arrive, your barrister may be liaising with Court staff or the other side’s representative prior to the hearing, so may not meet you upon arrival. However, they will meet you as soon as they can outside the Courtroom and will identify themselves by calling out your name. Their mobile phones are unlikely to be switched on when they are at Court, so, although you can keep us up to date as to your whereabouts, it is unlikely that we can get any messages to your barrister. If you are concerned, you can ask the reception desk at Court to put out a tannoy for your barrister.
Please bring an unmarked copy of all of your case papers to the hearing, in case these are required in whole or in part by the Court or those attending. We also suggest that you bring a book (or equivalent) in case there are periods of waiting.
What can I expect if I book a Detailed Case Review?
You can expect a meeting with our Head of Legal Practice and posssibly, her Associate Counsel, who will be a specialist in your particular area of law. The meeting will be held via telecon/videocon/in person, depending on what is most expedient for all parties and the options you have chosen.
You will be given oral and/or written Advice by our Head of Legal Practice/Associate Counsel on the following (where relevant):
a) Assessing the strength of your case
b) Explaining how the law applies to your case
c) Advising you on your options
d) Breaking down the likely costs
e) Guiding you on any evidence you will need to obtain
f) Agreeing your strategy in handling the case
g) Setting out the next steps
What can I expect if I book a Basic or Standard Case Review?
You can expect to obtain legal advice from our Head of Legal Practice by telephone or Skype, date and time to be agreed.
Prior to this, we will have had a pre-consultation discussion with you to find out more about your case: what you are trying to achieve, whether there are any key deadlines to work to, the facts and history of your case and so on.
- The consultation with our Head of Legal Practice will last up to 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the option you have chosen.
Note that it is largely unnecessary for us to read the background paperwork prior to the call, as we will have gleaned the key facts in our pre-consultation discussion with you.
If you would like us to read any background paperwork before or after the consultation, or, if it becomes apparent that this will be necessary, there will be an additional charge for this.
This is why we gain the core facts about your case from our pre-consultation discussion with you without charging for this aspect of our service, in order to keep your fee as low as possible.
How do I go about booking a Case Review?
When you first contact us, a member of our team will have an initial discussion with you to find out more about your case: what you are trying to achieve, whether there are any key deadlines to work to, the facts and history of your case and so on.
If we consider it appropriate for you, we will offer you a paid Case Review.
We offer Basic and Standard Case Reviews in cases where, for example:
a telephone or Skype consultation is the quickest and most cost effective way for you to have your queries addressed
you are a litigant in person and have specific questions that you do not have the expertise to address yourself
you are of limited means and need general guidance about your situation
you would benefit from initial advice on your case before proceeding with ongoing and costly litigation
and so on.
We offer Detailed Case Reviews in cases where, for example:
the case is complex
you require specialise advice
you are likely or wish to have legal representation going forward
relevant paperwork has to be read in order to provide comprehensive advice
and so on.
Once you have made payment of either £150 plus VAT, £300 plus VAT or £750 plus VAT - depending on the options you have chosen - (fees correct as at July 2019, subject to revision), we will send you your invoice for your records and our registration documents for you to complete and scan back to us.
Once we have received your registration documents, we complete our internal checks - for example, checking your identity, whether the correct payment has been made and so on.
We then liaise with you to book the first available date/time for your consultation.
We do attempt to book consultations as soon as possible - they are subject to availability, so it is in your interests to complete the tasks you are required to complete expeditiously.
We usually offer consultations within 48 hours of completion of the registration process and often sooner than this.
We can and do accept late or urgent instructions, however this is not ideal as it is not in your best interests to instruct us (or anyone) at the last minute.
We cannot book consultations prior to the completion of the registration process and payment of our fee.
What happens once I have sent you my registration documents and paid my invoice for ongoing legal representation?
Once we have received your registration documents, we:
1. Complete our internal checks - for example, checking your identity, whether the correct payment has been made, whether we have received all of your case papers and so on.
2. Assess who the best people to work on your case will be - this will be subject to who has the right level of expertise for your case and who is available once the initial internal checks have been made.
The Head of Legal Practice is always the key lawyer on your case and she works alongside the Admin Team and Head Office Team who deal with the administrative and legal administration of your case respectively.
The Associate Counsel who will be the specialist barrister working on your case will be appointed from the small team of barristers with whom we work on a regular basis, many of whom appear on our 'Meet the Team' page. As booking Associate Counsel is subject to the timing of when you have made payment and have passed our internal checks, we are unable, at the point of your enquiry, to confirm who Associate Counsel might be. However, we can assure you that they will be a senior barrister with specialist expertise in your case and someone who we have worked with before or whose reputation is known to us.
3. We then prepare 'Instructions to Counsel' for the team working on your case. This is an internal document prepared for the purposes of ensuring that everyone is fully appraised of the details of your case.
a) Contains all of your case papers:
Copies of material documents;
Court documents including:
Formal pleadings; Affidavit of documents; Copies of interrogatories and answers; Any other affidavits; Orders of the court;
Copies of relevant correspondence;
Proofs of evidence of witnesses;
Any opinions of counsel obtained earlier.
b) 'Instructs' the team on what actions have to be taken on your case e.g. giving oral or written advice, appearing at Court and so on
c) Sets out the specific legal questions that have to be considered as well as flagging any other relevant information arising in the case
d) Includes a summary of the case, including all relevant facts and information which would enable the reader to understand the issue at hand
e) Advises the reader of the evidence available to support your claim and whether facts and assertions can be verified in other ways
f) Contains references to the relevant case law and any unusual points of law, with particular reference to the facts of the matter
g) Highlights any concerns about any aspect of the case
the issues in dispute between the parties;
the state of any settlement negotiations (if relevant)'
the hearing date; and
the need for a conference in person or via telecon/videocon
i) Provides details of:
The court; and
The time of the conference/appearance/hearing (if applicable)
4. Once we have established and briefed the team to working on your case, we then liaise with you to book dates/times/take additional instructions and so on. At that point, the actual work on your case begins in partnership with you.
Note that, in order to do all of the preparation work we have to complete before the actual work on your case begins, it is preferable if you book with us as soon as possible, to give us sufficient time to complete this process thoroughly and efficiently.
We can and do accept late or urgent instructions, however this is not ideal as it is not in your best interests to instruct us (or anyone) at the last minute.
How much do you charge?
Fees for a case review - which is often the first stage of legal advice/representation are as follows:
Note that fees are subject to change and are correct as at July 2019.
A detailed case review can sometimes attract additional fees if, for example, there is a large amount of paperwork, the case requires the input of specialist Counsel, it involves commercial or international elements and so on. We will advise you of this before confirming the fee.
For ongoing litigation, we operate on the basis of fixed fees payable in advance. We assess what tasks will be required on your case and set out what these are and how much they will cost. This puts you in a position to manage your budget and to make informed decisions at each stage.
We do not bill per hour or in 6-minute increments as many other legal practices do. Our fixed fees cover all of the legal work required on your case, as well as the administrative tasks and occasional queries you may have.
This not only gives you peace of mind when it comes to both quality of service and fees, it also enables us to spend as much time working on your case as we need to without being limited by costs. This enables us to provide a much more comprehensive service to you and ensures that we get both repeat and recommended clients in the future.